Shona is the new Mandarin

A couple of weeks ago I started working for an Energy Services company. This is a field of great interest when looking in the broader scheme of engineering work. What I realised is the number of skilled employees that speak Shona. It has become a necessary practice for me, a Xhosa speaking engineer, to learn the more common phrases in Shona, to keep good relationships with the artisans and operators. The spread of Shona speaking employees extends to the auto industry, mines petrochemical and consultancy. Could it be that President Mugabe’s big Social budget of the late 80’s and early 90’s is paying of now?

Globally every economically productive region has a dominant language that management and cleaners find to be common. The Auto industry in Germany has a few English speakers, for example; the super powers such as Japan that make the Samsungs, Kawasaki bikes and all barely speak anything other than Japanese. The same applies to China where Mandarin is spoken by all, even Harvard Grads are learning the Language to better fit their engineering skills in this part of the world.

Southern Africa has South Africa as the economic power house and thus attracts employment attention from those who live in the rest of the SADC region. English and Afrikaans have been influential in this part of the continent, while the more native tongues were only popular in big industrial businesses like the mines. Shona seems to have crossed several industrial boundaries and is mimicking the way Mandarin took over.

With the spill off several million Zimbabweans into South African borders and South Africa being the African economic leader Shona is well on its way to taking over the continent.

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